I’ve been a lucky guy during my long career as a crop consultant, visiting many countries with various political systems including communism, socialism and varying degrees of capitalism. About a dozen nations in all so far, not counting a bunch of Caribbean Islands The Bride and I have visited on our several cruises. Some trips have been more enjoyable than others, but all have left me realizing once again that the U.S. agricultural system is the best in the world. While government support of agriculture has stagnated–perhaps even declined–over the years the formal linkage between USDA and Land Grant College research, State, regional and county-based Extension education systems and the end users (farmers and agribusiness professionals) is unmatched.
The internet brings the world closer, but to really experience it first-hand you need to “get out and around”, even if that only means the other side of this nation. Late each winter Miner Institute made trip to the Western U.S. with a group of college students as a part of their curriculum. We include an eclectic group of Institute staff, farmers and agribusiness professionals who pay their own way. One time we were headed to California and one of the dairy farmers by his own admission had “no life” outside his farm. He was a top-notch manager–still is for that matter–but his life revolved around his cows. He made the trip with a bit of trepidation, thinking that there was no way a dairy in the Northeast could compete economically with the huge dairies of the Southwest. What he found–to his surprise and delight–is that while the western dairies were impressive there were (are) advantages that well-managed dairies in the Northeastern U.S. have. He told me that it was an eye-opening experience, one he treasured. That was his first “big trip” but his appetite was whetted and it wasn’t his last.
The 50th anniversary of World Ag Expo–one of the stops when the Miner Institute contingent travels to California–will be held this year on February 14-16 in Tulare, California. For more information:
There are two huge dairy buildings and 1500 exhibits on 60 acres of exhibit area showing the diversity of agriculture for which California is famous. Easy access from one of the big West Coast airports and right next to a major north-south highway. It’s certainly worth a visit, but plan for more than one day at the show–it’s that big. Hey–if not now, when?